October 7, 2021
Iran’s Hossein Amir-Abdollahian told President Michel Aoun in Beirut Thursday that Tehran would offer any help required by Lebanon, which faces multiple crises.
News agencies of the two countries have so far reported few details of the meeting between Iran’s foreign minister and the president, who leads the mainly-Christian Free Patriotic Movement allied to Hezbollah.
On arrival at Beirut airport Thursday after wrapping up a two-day visit to Moscow, Amir-Abollahian told Iranian state television (IRIB) that Tehran Iran had “better and newer propositions for breaking Lebanon’s economic siege.”
He said his trip was “indicative of deep and friendly ties between the two countries, and we support Lebanon’s army, people, and resistance with a strong voice.”
The Iranian foreign minister also met with parliament speaker Nabih Berri, leader of the mainly Shia Amal party, and is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Najib Mikati, Foreign Minister Abdullah Bou Habib, and representatives of Palestinian groups.
On Monday Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah said third and fourth consignments of fuel were on their way to Lebanon.
“Paperwork has been done for the dispatch of the third gasoline-laden ship from Iran,” he said in a speech. “The fourth ship will bear diesel and will be sent over subsequently.”
Lebanon faces chronic shortages of petrol and diesel – the latter used for electricity generation by hospitals, apartments and other buildings – as the Lebanese pound has collapsed against the dollar, plunging around 80 percent of the population into poverty.
The United States has been enforcing sanctions against Lebanon for more than a year to pressure the country to curb political and military influence of Hezbollah, which is well represented in the Lebanese parliament and allied to Tehran. These sanctions have compounded the country’s economic problems.
Iranian officials say fuel bound for Lebanon was purchased by Lebanese Shiite merchants but have not explained how payment – which would contravene US sanctions against Iran – might be made. Vessels from Iran deliver the fuel to Syria from where it is delivered to Lebanon by trucks.
A third tanker carrying fuel arrived in the Syrian port city of Baniyas Wednesday. The first convoy of fuel trucks entered Lebanon on September 16. It is not clear how much of the fuel has been transported to Lebanon by land so far for which thousands of trips are required.
On Tuesday Shabab Hezbollah, a pro-Hezbollah social media Twitter account, reported that a convoy of around 60 trucks, the tenth such convoy, had entered Lebanon from Syria.
The initiative, which Hezbollah said had broken an “American siege” irritated some factions in Lebanon that said the party had not sought the government’s approval for importing fuel from Iran. Hezbollah’s opponents accused the group of undermining state authority and exposing Lebanon to the risk of further US sanctions.